Keeping close to Nature’s heart

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. ~ John Muir

~New work /photos above:

  • Summer Sunset 12 x 36    oil on birch board    $1000.oo
  • Detail photo- Summer Sunset
  • Beach   6 x 8   oil on canvas board     $ 360.oo
  • Grove   8 x 10  oil on canvas board    $ 455.oo
  • Island Sky  18  24  acrylic on birch board  $ 1100.oo
  • Detail photo- Island Sky


Sharing Manitou’s Breath

Inspiration may whisper on butterfly wings, or roar in a lightening bolt’s flash.

What feeds the painting fuels the artist; memories, emotion, experience, motion, inspirational hero’s, daybreak, soft sand underfoot, dust storms and salt water.

Manitou’s sculpted valley radiates the light of Turner with the afternoon sun. You feel awash in it’s peace glow.

Bathing in the salty fresh water, I thought of early generations visiting Manitou’s healing shores.

It’s a land that compels, and beckons with ancient legend.

Manitou’s actual salt & sand mix with pigment in this new work, “Manitou’s Breath” The paintings, as always, are meant to find their way to you, to light not just your screens, but your lives. Enjoy.

~Manitou’s healing history:

“Dan Kennedy, an Assiniboine on the Montmartre reserve tells of the legend. It goes something like this: “In 1837 there was a small pox epidemic. When the Indians were fleeing from the plains to try to get away from the scourge, they passed the site of Lake Manitou. When two young men in the group were unable to go any farther, a small tent was erected in which they could spend their remaining days. After the rest of the tribe had departed, the young men were so consumed by thirst that they crawled to the shore of the nearby lake, and as well as drinking from Lake Manitou, they immersed themselves in the water. Apparently it cooled their fever, and they spent the majority of the next few days bathing themselves on the beach. Within a few days they were recovered, and were able to take up the trail of their party. It was from this that the Indians have come to regard the waters of Lake Manitou as having great therapeutic value.”

Medicine men called the lake “Manitou” because it means God to them, believing that it came from the Great Spirit. It became known as the “Lake of the Healing Waters,” or “the Lake of the Good Spirit.”

Photos Above

  • Manitou- photo- Dawn Banning
  • Detail photos of new work “Manitou’s breath”
  •  New “Manitou’s Breath”  shown in studio light and natural light , 5feet x 3feet oil on wide profile canvas $4700.oo

Artistic Infusion at Work

“It isn’t common public knowledge the innovative Boeing ringlets were first inspired by a sculpture,” an engineer said over dinner last night.

The design has significant environmental appeal for fuel reduction. It can be applied to several platforms saving aviation companies millions.

I wonder if Boeing headquarters has since introduced a sculpture gallery?

We can encourage people to be innovative thinkers with learning & working environments reflecting this vision.

Interactive creative spaces merging art, science, nature, engineering, and technology are fertile ground for multi solution problem solving.

“To innovate, scientists and engineers find inspiration in the arts” by Reena Jana reads:In a workshop on creating compelling data visualizations, the New York Times‘ artist-in-residence, Jer Thorp, encouraged attendees to simply “hire an artist if you have a novel problem.” That’s because “Artists are trained to face novel problems,” Thorp said. And then he added, “Software engineers are not.” And to formalize the current wave of such cross-disciplinary innovation, the organizers of PopTech unveiled a new fellowship in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation that would mix artists with businesspeople, scientists, and social innovators to “facilitate unconventional collaboration,”

Supporting the arts isn’t a one-sided or charitable act. Beyond esthetics, art can improve lives, spark innovation, speed healing, improve concentration, higher levels of social tolerance, induce calm and increase productivity.

Forbes reviews a compelling study on the impact of art in the workplace, stating, The notion that art in the workplace is merely decorative was dispelled in a survey of more than 800 employees working for 32 companies throughout the U.S. that have workplace art collections. The survey, a collaboration of the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors drew responses from firms ranging from food distributors to law firms that house workplace collections. It found that art in the workplace helps businesses address key challenges such as reducing stress (78% agree), increasing creativity (64% agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77% agreed).


A physiotherapist after recently displaying original work said, “My focus is better, and the patients are relaxed. A calm patient means they more receptive to treatment, and quicker healing. It isn’t just beautiful, it makes good business & practice sense.”

A corporate exec shares thoughts of increased collaboration and company unity. “The work energizes us and gives our company a sense of pride when clients feel this way too.”

Jamie Livingstone of ArtIQ writes: Art impacts the bottom line, engages staff and represents company values.

Let’s deliver art support out of the gala shadows to public spaces, offices, tech centers, sanctuaries, schools, hospitals and homes.

Infusing art in our daily lives can inspire creative innovation, healthy social and productive work environments, concrete problem solving, and the wonder of possibility.


For further reading, click highlighted links in post. Also, 10 useful ways art can change your life – click here.

New work:

  • Maple Tree   8×10 oil on canvas board $ 455.oo
  • Sunset         8×10 oil on canvas $ 455.oo
  • Sky Awakening 12×36 $ 1000.oo

Artistry development & Maneli Jamal

“How do you know when a song is complete?” a fan asked renowned phenomenal guitarist Maneli Jamal.

“Well,” he responded thoughtfully, “They often continue to evolve. At some point I stop and release it. Right Dawn? It must be this way with painting?

Think of this aspect of creative process as developing a garden bed over time, switching plants out, adding new, changing colour, and texture, adjusting for the seasons. It’s a wonderful process of adding, subtracting, expanding, based on experience & growth.

Maneli’s musical stories are based on his extraordinary life experiences. During performances he offers listeners insight how he communicates these stories in his work, enhancing their experience. His unique ability to articulate may be attributed to his deep emotional connection to his craft, and confidence sharing it in raw truthful form with the world.

His music feels both deeply private, and universally connected.

We spoke about the evolution of creativity when he visited the studio last year, discussing similarities in process, and importance of emotional connection in our work.

Viewers often believe a painting is complete in the artists mind, it’s just a matter of ‘getting it out’ one reader suggested. In truth, the painting begins as a deeply emotional experience. The emotional content is then explored in light, colour, contrast, composition later in the studio. A painting is built, grown and matured rather than “popping out of one’s head”.

Readers wonder if painting ideas emerge when I am active outdoors, on my bike or running. It’s a little like asking if one makes their grocery list while meditating.

Sport frees my mind from clutter, allowing me to immerse in the landscape. Physical engagement deepens emotional connection in nature.

Think if it as fertile ground for the garden to grow.



Despite being a star of his magnitude, Maneli is deeply humble and thoughtfully soft spoken. He is gracious in every way, with maturity beyond his years. If you have the opportunity to experience his live performances, you cannot help but be completely transformed. His music resonates, lighting a place deep within the soul.

Maneli’s Website ( with Tour schedule & videos)

Maneli is performing in Toronto this weekend at Jazz Festival.

New Work-

“Water” 60×40 (5ftx3.3ft) oil on canvas $ 5300.oo

“Poppies” 9×12 oil on canvas 9×12 $ 480.oo



(Click on highlighted text for further reading.)

The new blockbuster “Wonder Woman” features incredible images of superhuman abilities.

Creativity, in reality, is one of our amazing superpowers.

Science is proving brains function at a higher level under the influence of art, for both non- creative & creative folk. (Read about benefits of the arts here and here.)

It’s such cool stuff, yet why is fine art considered a luxury item, when science is proving it fuels human development and health?

It’s common knowledge the arts offer emotional connection and new perspectives. In fact, the benefits go well beyond these initial findings.

Creativity itself is woven into nearly every aspect of human existence.

I spoke about the interweaving theory in my presentation “Creativity is our Superpower” at a local school.

“Think of art as cross training,” I said.

Creative tasks can improve math ability, academia function and communication skills. Observational and visualization skills are necessary in sports, communication, science, crime investigation, entertainment fields, and medicine. Technology, innovation, architecture, conservation require artistic influence. Creative vision is found in all design, from running shoes, cars or green energy.

Skills taught in art class are highly transferable. MacGyver likely excelled in art class.

When Peter Mansbridge Wayne Gretzky his views on modern hockey, creativity was the forefront of his response.

“We have lost playing on the pond…using your creativity and using your imagination…It’s become more robotic.”

He makes a worthy point. Creative play & imagination are important for development.

Encouraging creativity in children, infusing their environment with art, we equip them with tools for a better life and better world. Independent creative play allows exploration, adaptability and valuable cognitive function.

Adults, beef up your creative muscle, you boost your brain & well being.

Recognizing the value of the arts we reap benefits from the diverse wealth they offer. Erase barriers that keep us from living a connected creative life.

Embrace the wonders of art and unleash our superpower.


Seeking ways to improve your creativity? Check out my Free Ebook online.


All new work is in various stages of progress, the studio is a beehive of activity!

Anchor Coffee House Walkerville location in Windsor, ON is due to open this week! Enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee, or lemonade with homemade baked goods. You may select a seat with a forest view. :0) “Forest” on display and avail for purchase.

“Sunset Pine” 14 x18 oil on canvas  825$ CAD

“Sunlit Forest” 9×12 oil on canvas 480$

“Pine” 24×36 oil on canvas ( sky is lighter as of this week). 2170$

The Passion Purchase

How did a postal worker and librarian amass one of the largest and most priceless collections of art ever?

The story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel is a hot media topic and sparks investor inquiries. With modest salaries, (Herb’s annual income was 23,000) living in an 850 sq foot NY apartment, their collection worth millions was eventually deemed ‘priceless’.

 So, how did they do it?

Why should you care?

How to buy original art is the most common questions buyers like you ask. With the avenues to purchase original art expanding, from galleries, individual artist websites, art fairs, artist co-op’s, and private dealers, it can be a sea of confusion.

How did Herb and Dorothy do it? An International appraiser’s advice mirrors their actions. “Buy what you love. Art should be a passion purchase.”

“The Vogels only bought work they loved, whether the artist was known or not.”

Herb and Dorothy weren’t art specialists or critics. They never acted under the advisement of a dealer.

They collected with delightful passion. In fact, meeting the artists was an integral part of their process.

 “They communed with artists in the Greenwich Village art scene and never purchased art without a studio or personal visit with the artist, seeking out the artist’s input in an attempt to understand the process behind the works they were both drawn to.

To gain confidence buying what you love, think of the music you collect. It’s unlikely you asked for approval before buying concert tickets and CD collection. You were moved by the music and it enriches your life. Art is the same.

People’s eclectic collections aren’t so strange, what is odd, is that more people don’t buy original work.

Helpful considerations when purchasing original art:

  • Are you emotionally connected (joyful, intrigued, etc)?
  • Does the work show mature brushstrokes and colour palette? Does the artist express commitment to their work? ( ie: a legacy of exhibitions/established website, clear information) Is the artist emotionally connected to their work?
  • Are the persons exhibiting the work (dealer or artist) enthused or bothered?
  • Is the dealer informed on genre/ medium/ info on art & artist beyond the typical? Providing background knowledge of both artist & art expresses interest and commitment to their artist roster.
  •  Is there a documented history when you google the artist/ gallery? Testimonials? An added thought, see if they engage & contribute to their community/ charities.

These considerations will help you to establish value in the work.

Original art tends to recycle, and continue. It’s usually gifted, inherited, auctioned or resold, instead of filling up dumpsters.

Last year news broke that famous works of art were being manipulated overseas, mass printed and sold in big box stores. That print may not be Monet’s but an illegal knock off. In discussion of value, this is a relevant thought to consider. Conscious consumerism is expanding beyond the initial farm to table concept. We have the power and resources to collect wisely, considering, art, artist, venue, ethics and the environment.

Art matters. Herb and Dorothy knew that. They lived their passion, were enriched for it, and in the end, shared it with the world, gifting their entire collection. You can just feel the love.


New work ~ “Evening Light” –  ( barn) 18×36 oil on birch board ~ $2000.00 CAD

“Where the River Meets the Sea” 5ft x 3ft – 4700.00 CAD


Guardians of the Great

 “A feast for the senses and the soul.”— GLOBE AND MAIL  Mystical Landscapes at the AGO…”exploring the mystical experiences of 37 artists from 14 countries, including Emily Carr, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe and James McNeill Whistler.”

How does an artist experience an exhibit?

Like you, we savor.

Give the painting necessary distance when first viewing. Allow that image to soak in. Then, perhaps, move closer to study brushstroke and palette.

The Ago’s Mystical Landscapes exhibit affected me like none other. It was as thou brushes were reaching thru time and alighting us all in the room. Soulful landscapes dominated the halls. Centuries melted away, the work felt current, startlingly fresh. We were in the company of masterpieces & the masters themselves, with personalities as bold as the work. Forests beckoned and welcomed us under their protective canopies. Sentinels towered, commanding attention. Skies illuminated and sparkled. Walls vibrated. Goosebumps tickled my skin from the wind, my voice stilled in emotional silence.

Two thoughts struck me, as I wandered in awe, drunk on sensation, from hall to hall.

  • I was standing amid some of the most accomplished and celebrated paintings of all time.
  • Someone purchased and preserved the paintings long before fame touched them. Some even risked ridicule from their peers by collecting them.

What are their stories? How many kitchens and living rooms did these paintings grace over the centuries? How many hands have moved them from flat, cottage, or manor, wrapped, packed, opened and gifted these paintings before they arrived here?

Art lovingly cared for thru their lifetime, and left to future generations who would share with the world. Who were the first? The first that fell in love with a starry sky and gave it a home? ( click highlight for video)

They came before the crowds, the fanfare, before a Monet, Carr, or Thomson was a ‘sure thing’.

We have much to thank them for, these early care givers, collectors and believers.

To those who work in the industry; creators, curators, museum staff, gallery owners, collectors who purchase, celebrate, live with, donate, auction, sell, share, we thank you. To the painters, in your quiet studios far from the crowds, have hope.

We can be inspired as much by those who came before us in art, as those who believed in it. The guardians.


Mystical Landscapes was curated by Dr. Katharine Lochnan “After conceiving the idea for Mystical five years ago, Katharine invited 20 experts, largely from the University of Toronto, to explore the very challenging concept of the “mystical.” What is it? Which artists were proponents of it? Which paintings best exemplified its complex character?

As you can imagine, there was no easy answer. Over the years Katharine adeptly stickhandled her way through the debates, encouraging open talk and a constant flow of ideas. What emerged was an intriguing, often moving story about nature and our place in it, together with a new understanding of 50 years of European, Scandinavian and North American landscape. The story and the artwork struck a chord: the exhibition attracted an unprecedented number of visitors to the AGO, sold over 8,000 catalogues, and garnered widespread international attention both for the Gallery and for Katharine.”

From ~AGO Art Matters

” ~ A.Y. Jackson was from Montreal. His work had caught the eye of Lawren Harris and J.E.H. MacDonald as early as 1911; they recognized that he clearly had aspirations in common with the Toronto artists and was frustrated by the reactionary art scene in Montreal. Jackson was lured to Toronto by MacDonald and Harris, then persuaded to stay (he had been toying with the idea of moving to the United States) by means of a similar offer from Dr. MacCallum as was made to Thomson – a promise to buy sufficient paintings to pay for a year’s artistic activity.”From :


~ Bay Shore, 12×36 – now complete  $1000.00 CAD

~ “Where the River Meets the Sea” 5 feet x 3 feet  $4700.00 CAD

Rapt Attention

If it’s available to you, close electronics and your eyes. With awareness of your breath, pair it with the mantra ‘peace’. If chaos exists nearby, say to yourself “I choose to see peace instead of this”.

Be conscious of your senses, the texture of warm clothes against your skin, delight of sunlight on your face, lingering taste of your morning coffee or tea. Be still. Pay attention to what this moment offers you, sounds, scents, feelings, textures.

Take another deep breath and open your eyes.

You create your world with what you pay attention to. Pay attention to the good, you’ll feel better. Pay attention to the bad, and, well… you get it.” Writes Eric Barker. He continues “Via Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life:

All day long, you are selectively paying attention to something, and much more often than you may suspect, you can take charge of this process to good effect. Indeed, your ability to focus on this and suppress that is the key to controlling your experience and, ultimately, your well-beingResearch shows that paying attention to positive feelings literally expands your world. “

Savoring the good things, Eric writes, “is one of the secrets of the happiest people and it’s part of the basis for one of the most effective happiness-boosting techniques.”

In creativity, external observation is combined with mindfulness. Think of it as absorbing life in childlike wonder.

Much of daily anxious stress is a result from thinking of future or past events. Giving pause to recognize positive elements in every day occurrence are crucially important to absorb fully. You will remember the birth of your child and the day you received the big promotion. Savoring small happy details, the flight of a butterfly, smile from a neighbor, hug of a friend, keep one grounded on a daily basis, adding up to major health benefits for long term wellness.

In painting, artists focus on one brushstroke at a time. Thou the act of painting is familiar, but the work itself, is not. While cooking a recipe the mind can wander to ‘next steps’ or the day’s agenda. During a run, it’s motivating to ponder what will emerge in the next mile. Painting unlike other pursuits, requires attention that is absolute. Original concept is developed and re-evaluated upon each brushstroke. In this way, artists can embody laser focus with ability to tune out what doesn’t apply to the immediate momentary act.

It is a process of diverting one’s scattered forces into one powerful channel. (James Allen)

To ease a cluttered mind and restore positive energy, for me, the key is recognizing this very moment will never come again. This enables one to focus and savour life with gratitude at any given moment.~

“Art is not an amusement, nor a distraction, nor is it, as many men maintain, an escape from life. On the contrary, it is a high training of the soul, essential to the soul’s growth, to its unfoldment.” ~Lawren Harris

~ Mountain Light 18×24-  ( shown in daylight and direct light) 1100.00

~ Bay shore 12×36 ( in progress) – 1000.00

Why Nature?

“Landscape artists are a dime a dozen.Why work in the most competitive genre in the world?” an art dealer asked.

  •  Nature is always going to be relevant, and current.
  • It’s non- offensive and excludes no one. Nature art connects to diverse audiences of any age, demographic, religion, culture, & language.
  • It’s versatile &  suitable for every room. Residential, commercial, offices, lobbies, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, baby nurseries, hotels, restaurants, and schools and public venues all benefit from having nature art on the walls. (My clients share they also use the work as a meditation tool.)
  • Scenery/ Nature art is scientifically proven to have positive impact on wellness, promoting healing physically, mentally, emotionally. (Art of all genres improve academic/ problem solving skills in participants and viewers.)
  • Landscape art requires no guidebook, translation or title to emotionally connect the viewer.
  • Thou trends change, nature art continually appears in art auctions indicating it has longevity and may be a solid investment.
  • It’s home. I have explored many genres with pencil and brush, finding myself most at home in wilderness work. Raised in nature, I understand it’s primitive balm to our souls. Landscape art can be a powerful emotional connection to wilderness, our universal ‘home’. Why not provide this love to a global audience?

If the work is created sincerely, authentically, evolving skill & expertise it will connect to the viewer and find it’s audience, offering delight, healing and inspiration.

All this, from pigment & cloth.

Thou the most competitive genre, I’d say it’s worthwhile.


“Paint horses, they are more marketable, and try to stay away from green.” my Montreal dealer said.

“Focus on flowers, we sell a lot of those.” my Ottawa dealer chirped.

“Tuscan villages would sell, instead of this nature stuff. Villages are trending.” Exhibit attendees.


Sunset Shoreline ~ 18×14 oil on canvas ~ 825.00

Evening Field – 6×8 oil on board – 360.00

( Mountain) – still in progress- 18×24 – 1100.00

Bluebird of Happiness (well, just because). 8×8 oil on canvas 400.00

A Song for All

“I think over again my small adventures, my fears, These small ones that seemed so big. For all the things I had to get and to reach. And yet there is only one great thing. The only thing. To live to see the great day that dawns. And the light that fills the world.” Inuit Song. ~ “Letters” by Robert Genn Pg. 588.

~ New~  “Moon” 14×18 original oil on canvas ~ $ 825.00

Original Charcoal drawing NFS.